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Article all about the “Mantle Underground”

Some time ago I was invited to write a chapter for a book on University-school partnerships. I had never really thought of our activities as being worthy of academic attention, but I was tickled to be asked and I wrote the chapter – with help from a bunch of other people including Delia Baskerville, Renee Downey, Stephen Hall, Jon Jenner, Robin Kermode, Jodie Moore, Sophie Stevenson, Gaenor Stoate and Carrie Swanson…

After quite a few delays, the book finally came out in October last year. I’ve been given permission to share our chapter on this website… and you’ll find it here . Big thanks to those who helped with comments and input.

P.S. I nearly called the chapter “It’s not what we’re teaching, it’s how we’re teaching!” which was a bit of a catchphrase for the ‘Mantle Underground’ in the early days… but as you’ll see I went with something a bit more conventional in the end. Enjoy!


2 replies
  1. Susan Battye
    Susan Battye says:

    Dr Viv Aitken’s detailed, well researched and inclusive chapter on the work undertaken to support the development of Mantle of the Expert pedagogy in New Zealand forms a compelling reason why Drama in Education deserves ongoing support in New Zealand. The fact that so many teachers have responded to the call put out by Viv Aitken and sustained a commitment to the methodology over a period of many years is hugely significant in itself.
    Aitken writes:

    “Of the twenty eight students enrolled in the Masters summer school in 2014, the majority had either been active members of a local cluster group or had been inspired by a visit to their schools and most said they had not have considered postgraduate study before (personal communication to author). To date, two students from the 2009 Masters course have gone on to conduct their Masters and PhD research into Mantle-of-the-Expert (Swanson, 2015; Stoate, 2013), with others from other intakes intending to do the same in future. As well as providing income for the University, these studies and the resultant publications add significantly to the research base for this under-researched pedagogy (Stoate, 2014).”

    Waikato University and all of the schools, school principals and teachers who have taken part in the longitudinal study deserve to be commended for taking part in this work that is significant in world terms. The teachers remained committed at a time when huge pressure was being brought to bear to ignore such in depth student focussed practices and instead answer the straight jacket call of National Standards. In order to utilise this methodology the schools had to no doubt make a leap of faith that their students results would improve as a. result in reading, writing and mathematics as well as the chosen learning area such as science or social studies.

    The project deserves to be extended with the support of the current ‘team’ of experts to carry it through. As a former student of the originator of this methodology, Dorothy Heathcote I am sure she would have been very proud to know that so many people in New Zealand have found the methodology useful in their teaching practise.

  2. Viv Aitken
    Viv Aitken says:

    Thank you Susan for those words. You’re right – our ‘Underground Community’ is a significant achievement. And yes, teaching in this way has required a huge leap of faith not only from the university but from the passionate individuals in schools prepared to give Mantle of the Expert a go despite other pressures … I wish I’d made that point more clearly in the chapter! Thank you for raising it … And yes, these hard won networds need to be sustained and the new generation of teachers supported. I’m personally really committed to making that happen and I’m happy to note that after the 2018 summer school we have a new generation of teachers keen to use the approach, stay connected and keep learning.

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